Palestinian techno DJ Sama’ Abdulhadi has been arrested along with several others following an event held at a historical religious site in the West Bank, located between Jericho and Jerusalem.
The party, which reportedly took place at the Nabi Musa shrine on December 26th, hosted “hundreds” of Palestinian youth, according to La Repubblica. Locals have come forward to note that the event did not actually take place inside the holy shrine, but instead in a part of the building that hosts weddings, birthdays, music and cultural events.
However, when news and footage from the event began to circulate on social media, it sparked outrage from members in the community. Those in attendance explained that a “mob” formed around the site to shut down the event, and participants reportedly threw furniture from the hostel—located alongside the mosque—into the courtyard. The furniture was then set on fire and destroyed.
According to reports, the organizers received permits for the event from the Palestinian Authority. However, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh has set up a commission to investigate and the Minister of Religious Affairs, Hussam Abu al-Rub, has condemned the party “obscene.” “We will not be silent and we will prosecute anyone who took part in it,” he said.
Abdulhadi was taken into custody on December 27th and is allegedly being held on charges of “offending religion.” 5 Magazine reports that on the morning of the 29th, Abdulhadi’s detention was extended “for a period of 15 days” partly because “techno music is not [recognized as] part of the Palestinian heritage.” According to her lawyer, she has also been charged for violating COVID-19 procedures, said CNN.
In the wake of Abdulhadi’s arrest, a petition has been launched, demanding her release. “The arrest of Sama occurred after the attack on a private recording for a streamed performance the Nabi Mousa in Jericho by a group of young people, who stopped the event and threatened the attendees,” the petition reads. “This attack was followed by a vicious campaign of misinformation on social media which fueled violent reactions and personal attacks against Sama’.”
“The site, Maqam Nabi Musa, is under the custody of the Palestinian Ministry of Tourism who gave written approval to organize and film the concert in the Bazaar site (not in the mosque which is part of the site),” the petition continues. “The ministry was aware of the type of music that will be played at the concert- techno- and that this concert will be filmed in this archaeological site featuring Sama Abdulhadi, one of the leading Arab women in techno music in the world, to promote Palestinian heritage sites and Palestinian techno music amongst music audiences around the world.”
The petition’s organizers have voiced their concern via the #FreeSama hashtag on Twitter, which has picked up steam in the aftermath of the news.
Abdulhadi is regarded as the the State of Palestine’s “first female DJ” and a pioneer for the regional underground scene. She has been featured on Boiler Room, France 24 and contributed a BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix in 2019.
Over 64,000 people have signed the petition calling for Abdulhadi’s release at the time of the article’s publishing.